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Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff

Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff

4.4 19
by Jennifer L. Holm, Elicia Castaldi (Illustrator)

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Ginny has ten items on her big to-do list for seventh grade. None of them, however, include accidentally turning her hair pink. Or getting sent to detention for throwing frogs in class. Or losing the lead role in the ballet recital to her ex-best friend. Or the thousand other things that can go wrong between September and June. But it looks like it’s shaping


Ginny has ten items on her big to-do list for seventh grade. None of them, however, include accidentally turning her hair pink. Or getting sent to detention for throwing frogs in class. Or losing the lead role in the ballet recital to her ex-best friend. Or the thousand other things that can go wrong between September and June. But it looks like it’s shaping up to be that kind of a year!

As readers follow Ginny throughout the story of her year, told entirely through her stuff—notes from classmates, school reports, emails, poems, receipts, and cartoons from her perpetually-in-trouble older brother Harry—a portrait emerges of a funny, loveable, thoughtful girl struggling to be herself…whoever that person turns out to be.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Two-time Newbery Honor author Holm (Our Only May Amelia) and Castaldi (Miss Polly Has a Dolly) gather an eclectic assemblage of "stuff" to chronicle the intermittently bumpy year of a smart, sassy seventh grader. As the months pass, Ginny tackles an impressive to-do list. Among the entries: "Get a dad" (she does, when her widowed mother remarries); "Get the role of the Sugarplum Fairy" (she doesn't; worse, her former best friend-who never returned the sweater she borrowed-does); and "Convince mom to let me go see Grampa Joe over Easter break" (he lives in Florida). Ginny also writes poems and IMs friends, and her older brother, Henry, draws a series of comics. The collages that make up the pages here look perky: appealing mixes of objects like bottle-cap linings and candy wrappers, or spreads that combine hair dye boxes, drugstore receipts, salon bills for "color reversal" and a bank check to tell a story. But the inviting format disguises a darker side. Ginny worries, with cause, about Henry, who drinks and drives; resents her new stepfather's ways; and her normally excellent grades take an abrupt nosedive. The everyday tensions of seventh grade show up, too, via the ex-best friend and a pesky little brother. The punchy visuals and the sharp, funny details reel in the audience and don't let go. Ages 8-12. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
What is it really like to be a teenager? From September to June, readers explore twelve-year-old Ginny’s last year of middle school through party invitations, several report cards, science notes, poetry assignments, Instant Message conversations, graded papers, and in-class notes passed to friends. This book presents the angst and humor of seventh grade with authenticity and delight, falling gently into the stream of classic teenage voices. The accompanying artifacts of Ginny’s school experience are a wonderful collage that will be familiar to any seventh grade girl. Jennifer Holm, winner of the Newbery Honor award for Our Only May Amelia and Penny from Heaven, has once again created a story permeated with creativity. The gentle story is beautifully complemented by Elicia Castaldi’s illustrations. Young readers will enjoy following the adventures of Ginny from her to-do list to her school-themed poems to her slumber party guest list. Jennifer Holm has once again touched magic. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 5-7
Ginny Davis begins seventh grade with a list of items to accomplish. This list, along with lots of other "stuff"-including diary entries, refrigerator notes, cards from Grandpa, and IM screen messages-convey a year full of ups and downs. Digitally rendered collage illustrations realistically depict the various means of communication, and the story flows easily from one colorful page to the next. Ginny is fairly typical-she wants to look good for her school picture but ends up with a hair disaster the night before. She babysits but can't seem to increase her bank balance. She has problems with friends, boys, and clothes. But readers also learn about some deeper issues. She has a hard time adjusting to a new stepfather, and her older brother has difficulties with alcohol and poor behavior choices. Ginny's pain is expressed through report card grades that drop to Cs and hall passes to the school counselor. However, the year ends on a high note as she discovers a talent for art and gets asked to the Spring Fling. The story combines honesty and humor to create a believable and appealing voice. Not quite a graphic novel but not a traditional narrative either, Holm's creative book should hook readers, especially girls who want something out of the ordinary.
—Diana PierceCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
To-do lists, instant messages, Post-it notes, report cards, newspaper clippings, school assignments, letters and notes-to-self graphically tell the story of Ginny's seventh-grade year. Family issues, including her mother's remarriage and her brother's increasingly disturbing delinquent acts, share equal billing with friendship problems, changing interests and a first kiss in this convincing account of a middle-schooler's life. Ginny's efforts to follow uplifting magazine advice consistently result in disaster. Adjusting to a new dad turns out to be more difficult than she expected. Her former best friend gets the starring role in The Nutcracker. And her monthly bank statement consistently shows a balance of $5 no matter how many deposits are made. But the boy whose negative attention was the bane of her existence in the beginning of the year is her date for Spring Fling, and new interests replace her former passion for ballet. Humor balances the serious issues. Middle-school readers will recognize Ginny's world and enjoy piecing together the plot through the bits and pieces of "stuff" depicted in Castaldi's collages. A delightful collaboration. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Jenni Holm is the Newbery Honor-winning author of Our Only May Amelia, Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise, and the BabyMouse graphic novel series. She lives in Northern California with her family.

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Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
WilleyK More than 1 year ago
I read the book Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm. I couldn't put it down! I was drawn to this book by the title and the awesome pictures. The reality of this book and how you can relate to the young girl is the best part. Middle School is worse than Meatloaf is a book about a young pre-teen and her experiences in the 7th grade. Her name was Genne. Well within her 7th grade year she experiences many problems. One would be her mom and step-dad getting married. She also faces problems with friend, family, and her self. This book is a story about the life of a typical teenage girl. I could relate to Genne me myself being in 7th grade I can relate to the struggles she faces. I especially recommend this book to any young girl around my age. It a fun yet comical book that I defiantly recommend. I loved reading this book and you would too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a twelve year old middle school sudent. The fron cover looked cool,so i read it. A very good and easy to read book. I reccomend it for everyone! this book is sweet!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading "Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf" I thought the book was great ! Students going to Middle School can relate to this book,so I would recommend this book to many of my friends. This book is about a twelve year old who's just starting Middle School. Through the book she talks about her life and how complicated it is! It also has many funny comments and poems which makes it an even greater book! In no time you will be asking yourself "How did I finish this book so quickly !" It's is a real page turner! Another book I would like to read by Jennifer L.Holms, the author , is "Turtle in Paradise". I would like to read this book because it's about an eleven year old named Turtle who's living in the 1930's . At that time jobs and money were very scarce and now Turtle needs to leave because her mother gets a job as a housekeeper and the lady doesn't like children ! So Turtle is stuck moving to Florida and having to stay with relatives she's never met. For all those who are reading this I assure you that you will be fully in love with the book "Middle School is worse than Meatloaf"! Just read it and see for yourself!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is an awsome book if i were you, you should read it. it's almost better then TWILIGHT!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that this is one of the most intriguing books I've come across so far this year.

This isn't a normal novel, in that, although the book does contains actual words, the story isn't told in regular story format. Rather, as the full title suggests, it's a story that describes a year in the life of Ginny Davis, a seventh grader at Woodland Central, through stuff.

Stuff, as in notes from the principal. Stuff, as in letters to and from school friends. Stuff, as in pictures of play costumes, and cancelled checks, and calendar notations, and report cards. Stuff, as in anything and everything that makes up the life of a middle-schooler.

Author Jennifer L. Holm is to be commended for this awesome book, which offers a peek into middle school life, and inside the comings-and-goings of a teenage girl. From Post It notes from mom to crazy cards from Grandpa Joe, you'll find yourself smiling and reminiscing as you browse through the pages of MIDDLE SCHOOL IS WORSE THAN MEATLOAF.

This would be the perfect gift for anyone about to enter middle school, or, actually, for anyone who just enjoys books that are a little different from the norm. Believe me, this story is sure to please!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Meatloaf Is Worse Than Middle School is a funny kid book that a mom could sit down and read to their child every once and a while. their are really a lot of cool characters but in the book which im going to tell you about this before i tell you to read it is that not all of it is words, their are alot of pictures and little decorations in the book but PLEASE dont let that stop you from reading it because it is a really good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book I thought it was so cool and I really liked how is was set up. I told my friend she should read it and she also loved it we both read it in like an hour on and off because we were in class and we had to listen a little but i really enjoyed this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am the mother of a seventh grade girl, and am selective about the books my daughter reads. I came across Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf. From the first page it was amazing how much I enjoyed it, let alone my daughter. The story line by author Jennifer L. Holm and the illustrations by Elicia Castaldi took me back several years. The funny part is, with the exception of the technological changes (i.e. e-mail), much of what was in the book was similar to my childhood and middle school experiences. Both Ms. Holm and Ms. Castaldi have succeeded in bringing to life a very important time in any girl¿s life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a middle school teacher and I had begun to hear a lot of talk about the book MIDDLE SCHOOL IS WORSE THAN MEATLOAF. I decided to pick up a copy to see why it had captured my students¿ attention. After reading the book it was clear to me why. The book brings to life the experiences of Ginny Davis through an amazingly detailed series of illustrations. Although I do not have children of my own I have been in the school system for 15 years and was amazed by how this book captured the middle school experience. It is a must read for young girls.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The illustrations and photography make this book real, fun, and meaningful to any middle schooler. This book tells the life of today's pre-teen girl exactly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ginny is a seventh grader and is trying to live through every middle school crisis. From turning her hair pink to throwing frogs ing science class. This is a truly outstanding book that is great for middle school girls, just like ME!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book totally rocks and it is good for middle schoolers
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is funny and the layout is cool.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ginny? Harry? Pfff, such J.K Rowling copycats. Think of your own character names, people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just started reading this book and i dont like it at all. This is one of thosebooks were there are just notes instead of a story. But i dont like books like that. So if you are like me i dont recomend this book.